Belfast Telegraph

Carillion calls in accountants EY for business review after share price collapse

Infrastructure giant Carillion has drafted in accountancy giant EY to help carry out a review of the business as it fights for its survival.

EY and Carillion will focus on "cost reduction and cash collection" following a torrid seven days for the firm.

Last week it suffered a dramatic collapse in its share price after announcing a profit warning which saw almost £600 million wiped from its value.

Interim chief executive Keith Cochrane said: "We are moving forward quickly with the actions outlined last week.

"Alongside our own efforts, EY will provide support across the business and bring an external perspective to our cost reduction and cash collection challenge. My priorities are to reduce the group's net debt and create a balance sheet that will support Carillion going forward.

"We need to simplify the business and demonstrate that value can again be created for shareholders by focusing the group on its core markets, including infrastructure and property services, in which it has good strengths and leading positions"

Carillion's market capitalisation has gone into freefall, falling from £826 million to around £241 million in a matter of days after it warned over earnings and revealed an £845 million write-off on construction contracts.

Chief executive Richard Howson stepped down with immediate effect a week ago as the group said it would need to bolster its balance sheet and was struggling to stay within its borrowing limits.

He has been replaced by Mr Cochrane on an interim basis while a search is undertaken for a permanent boss.

In better news for the firm, Carillion was named among the firms awarded contracts for the building of phase one of the HS2 rail line.

The deals are worth £6.6 billion in total and will see tunnels, embankments and viaducts constructed between London and Birmingham.

Shares in Carillion jumped by more than 7% off the back of the contract awards to 60.1p, but still way off from the 191p they were trading at before the stock collapsed last week.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said: "This ought to help its share price but whether it can deliver these contracts is another matter.

"It could make it a slightly more attractive prospect to rescue if it comes to that.

"But it's hard to see an awful lot to be cheerful about. This stock could have further downside."

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